DALLAS -- Hundreds of potential jurors filled the Frank Crowley Courts Building in Dallas on Friday for the first day of jury selection in the murder trial of former police officer Amber Guyger.
Friday marked the one-year anniversary of Guyger's fatal shooting of her upstairs neighbor, Harding University graduate Botham Jean, as he prepared to watch football inside his Dallas apartment.
Guyger has said she mistook Jean's apartment for her own and thought he was an intruder when she shot him.
Her trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 23. During jury selection, Judge Tammy Kemp will have to rule on a motion made by Guyger's attorney requesting a change of venue, which could push back the trial date if she approves the motion.
Jurors will not be tasked with deciding whether Guyger shot Jean. Instead, they will have to decide if Guyger's actions were murder, manslaughter, another crime or no crime at all.
Reporters from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and other major Dallas-Fort Worth outlets were at first denied access into the Central Jury Room where Kemp and attorneys from both sides were to address jurors. Bailiffs cited overcrowding, despite the jury room being an open courthouse.
After reporters tried to gain access a second time, Kemp addressed the media and said she isn't allowing members of the press or other members of the public who were summoned inside the courtroom because the Dallas fire marshal told her that overcrowding was an issue.
Asked why a bench wasn't left open for members of the public, Kemp said that wasn't her priority, explaining that once enough jurors had been excused and there was room, she would open a bench for the public.
The media were allowed in at 11 a.m.
Dozens of jurors have already been excused by the judge. A few who left the building told a Star-Telegram reporter that they were instructed not to talk to members of the media.
Potential jurors are filling out questionnaires, which will be reviewed by attorneys over the next week. Jurors will be asked to return to the Central Jury Room on Sept. 13 for questioning.
Attorneys Daryl Washington and Lee Merritt, who represent Jean's family, addressed the media from the lobby of the courthouse.
"What I want to happen is that they have the opportunity to find a fair and impartial jury," Washington said.
Metro on 09/09/2019
Print Headline: Slain Harding grad's case at jury selection